Impact of COVID-19 on Refugee and Host Community Livelihoods - ILO PROSPECTS Rapid Assessment in two Refugee Settlements of Uganda

The assessment provides an evidence base for the needs of the refugee and host community populations and business enterprises in two locations targeted by PROSPECTS, in order to inform key stakeholders of market-based economic support opportunities and possible short- term, mid-term and long-term adaptations to programming that will allow PROSPECTS to effectively support populations in Isingiro and Arua, Uganda.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global slowdown of economic activity, imposing high costs on labour markets, as well as adding a new set of challenges for host communities and refugees to sustain their livelihoods and access income. In response to COVID-19, Uganda swiftly enacted restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the virus with government directives leading to the suspension of mass gatherings, temporary closing of borders, restrictions on movement, closing of businesses and schools, and a nationwide curfew. While the lockdown was instrumental in containing the initial spread of the virus, it affected economic activity and reduced access to critical services across the country. Unrelated, but coinciding with World Food Programme (WFP) reduced food assistance rations by 30 per cent to refugees and asylum seekers owing to a $137 million shortfall in funding.

In partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), IMPACT Initiatives conducted a rapid assessment to assess the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets, livelihood gaps and the socio-economic circumstances of refugees, households, and businesses. The assessment was conducted in the two refugee-hosting districts of Isingiro and Arua to inform the ILO and PROSPECTS partners programming in those respective locations. The assessment sought to understand the labour market dynamics prior to COVID-19, how the pandemic has impacted employment and household income , and in turn, provide evidence-based recommendations to the ILO and partners on which programmatic activities can best assist businesses and communities in the refugee settlements and the wider refugee hosting districts in reducing their current vulnerabilities during this complex time.

A mixed-method approach was used, consisting of a desk-based review, quantitative data collection at the household and enterprise/business levels with refugee (Rhino Camp and Nakivale settlement) and host community populations in Isingiro, Madi Okollo and Arua districts, and key informant interviews with local business owners and associations, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government representatives. Data was collected between September and October 2020, comprising 441 household-level surveys, 252 enterprise-level surveys and 27 Key Informant interviews (KIIs).